Finally, I was able to have a long, frank conversation with the lawyer facilitating this adoption. As soon as he explained how his adoptions worked, I was instantly put at ease. Mr. Petersen did not work with pregnant mothers in the Marshall Islands. He did not fly them to the US for an adoption like other unethical adoption professions. What I found out was this: Springdale, Arkansas, has become an immigration destination for Marshallese people in the last 25 years. In fact, about ten percent of the world's Marshallese population reside in Arkansas. Who knew? Back in the 80's, one guy immigrated there, enjoyed it, and family and friends followed. Mr. Petersen only facilitates adoptions of women who permanently reside in the United States and will continue to do so. The US is their home. They have access to counseling, healthcare, and any other social programs that any other US resident has.
I was flooded with relief. Mr. Petersen also gave me the phone number of the girl I knew in childhood who had adopted through him (the one who I had been trying to contact and even considered crashing a funeral for). I was able to call her and hear about her experience.
This adoption would be close to double what our agency would charge. I knew that doing a private adoption would hold its own set of challenges. As I prayed to know what to do, I knew this baby was meant to be in our home. I knew the process would be rocky. I knew it wouldn't be as fun (as if adoption is ever "fun"). And somehow, I knew the money situation would work out.
And so we accepted the match. The mother's ultrasound revealed the baby is a girl. We sent our families special Valentines to announce the news.
We had our sights set on a due date of June 19. But as you all know, baby Noelle was born on May 9. Due dates can be off without any prenatal care. :) The process was definitely trying. We had to traverse through the complex legalities alone. We were half way across the country in a strange place with people who did not speak our language without someone to guide us through it all. Our private adoption was hard. I don't know that I will swim those waters again.
Our first family picture. If it weren't so special, I wouldn't post it. I look like a zombie! This was after 2.5 hours of sleep in 48 hours and 15 hours of travel!
But I know that this baby was meant to be in our family. And all things considered, our adoption process did go smoothly. We are so lucky to have adopted twice, each one taking under a year and each one with both birth parents on board.
Our experience in Arkansas was so special. Noelle's birth family are such warm and loving people. They doted on their little baby with such tenderness. Warmth, caring, and love transcended the language barrier.